A property that is a linchpin of East Palo Alto's development plans at the corner of University Avenue and Bay Road has been sold to Sand Hill Property Company, the company announced in a press release on Monday.
The 6.18-acre property at 1675 Bay Road, the site of the long-demolished Nairobi Shopping Center, sits in the center of the city and has been designated as a potential mixed-use residential hub in the Ravenswood Business District/4 Corners area, according to a land-use map in the city's 2013 Ravenswood/4 Corners TOD Specific Plan.
The property, which is part of the 350-acre specific plan, is zoned for multistory buildings with retail and community facilities on the ground floor and apartments or condominiums on the upper floors. The area is envisioned as becoming the "living room" of East Palo Alto that would "provide a cohesive Downtown experience for East Palo Alto," according to the press release.
City zoning code also allows offices and a medical lab at the space, Sand Hill notes.
Green Valley Corporation, a company under developer Barry Swenson Builder, sold the lot to Sand Hill's limited liability partnership, Four Corners EPA Property Owner LLC. The deed was recorded in San Mateo County on Nov. 1, according to public records. The company declined to state the purchase price, but multiple real estate-investment media outlets reported the sum at $42 million.
"We are excited to engage with the community on how they envision this site within the context of the Ravenswood/4!Corners Specific Plan," said Michael Kramer, managing director at Sand Hill Property Company. "We want to see this result in a vibrant mixed-use project that the community can be proud of. This site has been vacant for decades, it is time to activate this important corner in the heart of East Palo Alto. We plan to start speaking with the city and the community very soon to get feedback on what a future plan may look like."
Sand Hill expects to own the site for the long term, and to build and operate the future mixed-use property themselves, the company said.
The "Four Corners" acquisition isn't Sand Hill's only strategic purchase in recent years.
In 2016, the Palo Alto-based developer acquired Woodland Park apartments, a 1,800-unit development on the city's west side. Owned under Sand Hill's entity Woodland Park Communities, the company has proposed redeveloping an area of its holdings that are adjacent to the University Circle business park by constructing more than 600 units that will be called Euclid Improvements. It also proposes to keep existing units that are currently under the city's rent-control ordinance at the same rate with rent-control protections. Sand Hill has also committed to moving tenants to other units during construction to prevent displacement and giving them priority in occupying the new apartments.
Woodland Park and the related development plans will be managed independently of the Four Corners site, which is held by the Four Corners EPA ownership entity.
Sand Hill said it has demonstrated a commitment to improving the quality of life for its tenants. In their first three years owning Woodland Park, the company said it has increased parking spaces, replaced the site's security company, hired more bilingual staff, opened a resident services office and two technology centers, added two pop-up parks and hosted more than 30 community meetings and "listening sessions," it said.
Sand Hill Property Company is a local real estate investor and developer focused on mixed-use development, the company said. It owns Edgewood Plaza Shopping Center in Palo Alto, which reopened in 2015 after undergoing renovations, and other properties on the Midpeninsula.